Part I: Professional Goals and Self Assessment
- Start with the end in mind. Consider the goals you want to achieve as an early childhood professional. What are your highest aspirations for serving children and families? Write two long-term goals in the appropriate “Part One” of the Professional Development Worksheet that reflect NAEYC standards for professional preparation.
- Consider where you are now in relation to your long-term goals and aspirations. Reflect on your current knowledge, skills, and experience. Think about your areas of strength and areas for growth, including areas of study and professional interaction that have been most interesting and inspiring to you. Consider this information within the context of each of the following core areas of the early childhood profession:
- Safe and Healthy Learning Environments
- Physical and Intellectual Development
- Social and Emotional Development
- Relationships With Families
- Program Management
- Observing and Recording Behavior
- Child Growth and Development
- Record your areas of strength, areas for growth, and areas of interest and inspiration for at least three of these areas on the Professional Development Worksheet.
- With these areas in mind, formulate three very specific and clear near-term goals—measureable goals that you will achieve in the next 6 months to 1 year. List them on the worksheet. These will be the goals that drive your Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP).
Part II: Research to Inform Professional Development
Each of the near-term goals you identified on your Professional Development Worksheet is impacted by the broader landscape of the early childhood field. For example, you may have a goal of initiating advocacy efforts in an area in which new sources of funding are being made available at a national level. Or, it may be an area in which funding is being withdrawn. Understanding how your goals are influenced by current research, policies, issues, and trends can help you to be more strategic in deciding where to focus your professional growth and learning.
Consider each of the near-term goals you identified on your Professional Development Worksheet. In “Section Two” of the worksheet, summarize the larger context at the community, state, national, and/or global levels as follows:
- Describe at least three examples of current research, policies, issues, and/or trends that inform your near-term goals. Explain how the current research, policies, issues, and/or trends support or impede your ability to reach your goals.
- Explain how you can apply your learning about the research, policies, issues, or trends to advance toward achieving your goals.
Part III: Professional Organizations and Resources
Whatever the policies, issues, and trends may be affecting the early childhood field, a multitude of professional organizations and resources are available to provide information, training, guidance, and support that can assist you in reaching your professional goals.
Reflect on the policies, issues, and trends impacting your near-term goals. Based on this reflection, in “Section 3” of your Professional Development Worksheet, identify at least three professional organizations and resources that would be beneficial in supporting your ongoing development. For each organization and resource selected, include the following:
- Name of organization or resource
- Website or contact information
- Brief overview of purpose of organization or resource
- Explanation of how the organization can support achievement of near-term goals
Part IV: Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP)
Attaining your goals requires far more than identifying what you would like to achieve. You also need to identify specific strategies and resources for achieving each goal, a timeline for completion, and progress measures. These are the components of an Individual Professional Development Plan (IPDP). Your IPDP serves becomes the cornerstone of your professional development. It serves as a guidepost for your professional development, providing pathways for translating your goals into concrete action steps.
Based on the information you gathered in your worksheet, complete the IPDP Template to create your Individual Professional Development Plan. An example of how to fill out each column is provided in the first row of the template.
After completing the IPDP, choose two action steps from your plan to implement. Provide evidence to demonstrate that you completed the action step and attach it as an appendix to your IPDP. Examples of evidence might include such items as a certificate of attendance from a professional conference, interview notes, and/or photographs.